Netflix tries to ride out wave of customer anger

When Netflix first introduced their streaming download feature, I complained about the lack of captions and was told I didn’t have to use the streaming option as it was a “free bonus” to my account. (And since when has it been ok to exclude deaf and hard of hearing folks from “free bonuses” either?) But now that Netflix has announced fees for streaming download service, they no longer have an excuse to discriminate. From SFGate:

Then last month, the National Association of the Deaf filed a lawsuit against Netflix claiming the company is in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act because most of the movies and TV shows available for streaming don’t have captions.

Netflix has said that about 30 percent of its “Watch Instantly” videos have captions and that the company hopes to have 80 percent captioned by the end of the year.
Petition for captions

But Sebastian St. Troy, a hearing-impaired consumer rights activist from Texas, said Netflix has still not done enough. St. Troy’s online petition drive to push Netflix to include captioning gained more momentum last week, in part because of the publicity over the subscription fees.

2 Comments
  1. I’ve had the same problem with Netflix dvds: the other night, I watched Breaking Bad with Spanish subtitles because at least I was getting some text. (I’m not deaf or HOH but have a sort of mild audio processing disorder. It stresses me to rely only on sound, and I can kind of read Spanish.)

    Anyway, I wonder how much of this is coming from the production companies themselves. It seems to me that they’re allowing Netflix (and other rental entities like Redbox) to use their product with the stipulation that it will be stripped down. I don’t care about “special features,” but when subtitles for the HOH are removed, that’s discrimination. And to use any of these in an educational setting would be a violation of ADA law.

    Netflix saying they “hope to have” more captioned is a ploy. I bet every one of these movies comes out of the box with captions. . . .

  2. I was upset enough over lack of captions on the Netflix-branded disk of My Own Love Song to call and complain, and the customer service representative told me that “they had to take what the studio sends them” (I don’t believe that for a minute), and that “45 percent of our customer service calls are over lack of captioning” (that, I believe). How could Netflix possibly claim they have no control over captions on the DVDs printed for them when they are the buyer? If a batch of disks arrived without the soundtrack, you bet they’d be returned as defective. No, it clearly indicates they didn’t bother to ensure the captions made it over. And if they don’t consider 45 percent of their complaints indicative of a serious problem on their end, the only thing that will make them listen to reason is a lawsuit.

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